College of Engineering enrollment, diversity and success metrics continue to climb

Posted: November 9, 2022
Dean Ayanna Howard speaks with engineering students outside on campus
Dean Ayanna Howard (second from right) speaks with engineering students on campus.

The Ohio State University recently reported record minority student enrollment and a new freshman class that is among the most academically talented in the university’s history. Similar increases occurred in the College of Engineering, along with improvements in student retention and graduation rates.

The new figures are part of the Autumn Semester Enrollment Report, which includes key data about Ohio State’s undergraduate, graduate and professional students on its Columbus and regional campuses.

In 2022, the College of Engineering’s undergraduate enrollment on the Columbus campus rose to 8,382. Undergraduate enrollment on the Lima, Mansfield, Marion and Newark campuses jumped from 453 to a record 480, a 6% increase. Female undergraduate enrollment grew 3%. Total graduate enrollment increased by almost 1% to 1,899 students. The increase in female graduate student enrollment outpaced male enrollment 1.5% to 0.5%.

The College of Engineering’s total minority undergraduate and graduate enrollment also increased in 2022.

  • Total Black or African American student enrollment in the College of Engineering at all campuses and all levels increased to a record high of 632, up 9.9% since last year. Graduate student enrollment alone has grown 6.3% since 2021.
  • Total Hispanic student enrollment in the College of Engineering at all campuses and all levels increased 4.1% since 2021 to a record 488. Specifically, graduate student enrollment has grown 7% since 2021.
  • Total Asian student enrollment in the College of Engineering a­­t all campuses and all levels grew 13.2% since 2021 to 1,304.
  • Total first generation College of Engineering undergraduate enrollment at all campuses rose to 1,740, a 10.5% increase since 2021.

“Inclusive Excellence is foundational to Ohio State and our land-grant mission,” said Dean Ayanna Howard. “It leads to innovation and better preparation of engineers who are equipped to thrive in a more diverse and global economy. Ultimately, we hope to better reflect the state of Ohio and national demographics, and this data shows we are heading in the right direction.”

Student success metrics in the College of Engineering also saw positive results. In 2022, the first year retention rate – the percentage of incoming freshman that continue in engineering for the fall semester of their second year – was 85%, just shy of 2021’s record high of 85.5%. Second and third year retention rates reached record highs of 78.8% and 73.8%, respectively. Similarly, the six-year graduation rate was 67%, just short of the previous year’s record-breaking high of 68.4%. Retention of underrepresented minorities and female students also saw record- or near record-breaking numbers.

For comparison, results from a 2021 American Society for Engineering Education survey indicated a first year retention average of 81.9% and six-year graduation average of 55.2% among all engineering schools that self-reported.

“This growth is a massive accomplishment for everyone within our college. It’s a testament to the resilience and talent of our students, and the dedication and innovation of our faculty and staff,” said Dean Howard. “These improvements are an excellent indication that we will continue to grow, thrive and do amazing things—together.”

Creation of a direct admission process and community building programs like PREFACE, a long-standing summer bridge program for underrepresented students, have both contributed to retention and graduation rate growth among undergraduates. Additional efforts include refocusing staff efforts on assisting students to succeed in the first two years, a college-wide discussion on student mental health and combating anxiety, and a new strategy for awarding scholarships that prioritizes addressing students with high need and high loan balances. A combination of the optional GRE requirement and a holistic review process has positively impacted graduate student retention and graduation rates.

by Meggie Biss, College of Engineering Communications |